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GREATER TUNA presented by the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts through Feb. 15. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Sunday matinee performance.
The wacky denizens of Greater Tuna, Texas, have taken up residence at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. Actors Justin Smith and Matthew Wilson do a good job of defining the nearly two dozen characters that inhibit the small town. For the most part, they were aptly costumed by Caren Young, although some of the character wigs were more successful than others. For the actors, my one complaint would be that the performances were not big enough in personality and physicality to overcome the size of the Covedale stage.
The bulk of the set is quite literally, the side of a barn. The details of the set including the antennas and signage are fun and interesting elements. I also liked the idea of the radio studio behind the hayloft doors. That being said, there does seem to be a disconnect between the design by Brett Bowling and its usage in blocking by director Bob Brunner.
Also confusing to me was the decision to pantomime all but one of the hand-held props, especially when most of the time, the needed prop was a piece of paper. The only prop that made the “cut” was a knife, used in a bit, because it was funny. I would argue that taking props away from the cast deprives the actors the opportunity for similar comic moments. The sheriff using his fingers as a gun comes off more silly, than funny.
The production also stumbled with the quick changes. Aside from a few scripted radio show recordings used to cover some of the bigger changes, the lightning-fast costume switches are a cornerstone of the show. There were times when music queues were added to cover costume change delays, which adversely affected the pacing of the show. The distance the actors had to travel, at times, didn’t seem to help. At the performances I attended, at least one of these stalling sound queues was no longer needed, as we had an actor dressed and on stage waiting for the queue to end.
Overall a visually successful production that is, for me, too small and sedate for the huge play space. To quote a patron behind me after the curtain call, “Well, that was cute.”
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
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